Florida condo collapse rescue effort ends

Authorities have officially ended their search for more victims of the Champlain Towers collapse.
Authorities have officially ended their search for more victims of the Champlain Towers collapse.

Firefighters have declared the end of their search for bodies at the site of a collapsed Florida condo building, concluding a month of painstaking work removing layers of dangerous debris that were once piled several stories high.

The June 24 collapse at the oceanside Champlain Towers South killed 97 people, with at least one more missing person yet to be identified.

The site has been mostly swept flat and the rubble moved to a Miami warehouse. Although forensic scientists are still at work, including examining the debris at the warehouse, there are no more bodies to be found where the building once stood.

Except during the early hours after the collapse, survivors never emerged. Search teams spent weeks battling the hazards of the rubble, including an unstable portion of the building that teetered above, a recurring fire and Florida's stifling summer heat and thunderstorms.

They went through more than 13,000 tonnes of broken concrete and rebar, often working boulder by bounder, rock by rock, before finally declaring the mission complete.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's urban search-and-rescue team pulled away from the site on Friday in a convoy of fire trucks and other vehicles, slowly driving to their headquarters for a news conference to announce that the search was officially over.

At a ceremony, Fire Chief Alan Cominsky saluted the firefighters who worked 12-hour shifts while camping out at the site.

"It's obviously devastating. It's obviously a difficult situation across the board," Cominsky said.

"I couldn't be prouder of the men and women that represent Miami-Dade Fire Rescue."

Officials have declined to clarify whether they have one additional set of human remains in hand that pathologists are struggling to identify or whether a search for that final set of remains continues.

The collapse fuelled a race to inspect other ageing residential towers in Florida and beyond, and it raised broader questions about the nation's regulations governing condominium associations and building safety.

Australian Associated Press